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  Sectionals: Bulldogs rally for title & *Living Word sweeps VVS*   
 

Thursday, March 5
Bulldogs rally for title & *Living Word sweeps VVS*

Westmoreland recovers from bad games to beat Mustangs

Utica Observer Dispatch
ONEIDA — Westmoreland played two of its worst games of the season Thursday.

But the Bulldogs more than made up for it in the other three, rallying from a 2-1 deficit to win the Section III Class C volleyball championship in five games over Mount Markham.

Westmoreland narrowly defeated Mount Markham 27-25 in the first game, then lost the next two 14-25 and 12-25. The Bulldogs battled back, though, and won the last two games 25-18.

“I told the guys the second game was the worst I’d seen us play in a month,” Westmoreland coach Tim Gates said. “But I think that third game beat it.”

Westmoreland (17-4) has one game left Saturday, when it plays Coxsackie Athens at 1 p.m. at Cobleskill High School in the regional championship.

The Mustangs (16-3) appeared to be the superior team for most of the first game, but they were unable to build a sizeable lead. The Bulldogs never trailed by more than four points, and when they reeled off five straight to take a 20-19 lead (which included a pair of Tyler Matteson kills and a Neal Baron block), Mustangs coach Darin Lynch was forced to call a timeout.

It stopped the run, but Matteson contributed four more points in the game to help the Bulldogs pull it out.

Gates and the Bulldogs would like to forget Games 2 and 3. They had trouble handling the Mount Markham serves, they were poorly positioned and they didn’t pass well. Most importantly, Matteson said, they weren’t having any fun.

“The first game was fun,” he said. “But Games 2 and 3 went the wrong way. We started to have fun again in the fourth game and we were able to fight back.”

The roles were reversed in Game 4. A series of misplays, bad hits and net violations helped the Bulldogs jump to a 10-5 lead.

“In volleyball, both good things and bad things are magnified so much,” Lynch said. “The emotion and confidence we had in the middle, they had at the end, and they didn’t let down.”

With the five-point lead holding at 20-15, Lynch called a timeout. The Mustangs responded with two kills from Danny Roberts and one from Zach O’Sullivan to close the gap, but the Bulldogs weathered the storm and held on for the win.

Neither team had momentum at the start of Game 5. They went back and forth so much that they had each gone through their service rotations after just 14 points. But a kill and a block from Baron, and a pair of Matteson kills helped the Bulldogs build a slight margin at 13-10.

Steve LeMaire got into the act and posted a pair of kills to help push the lead to 17-12.
“They are a very physical team,” Lynch said. “When you’re powerful and confident, good things happen. We’re more of a finesse team, and tonight, our finesse let us down.”

The Bulldogs came up short on two game points, but made good on the third. Matteson’s teammates set him up numerous times on the final point. He eventually converted with an emphatic slam into the middle of the court to seal the match.

“I needed that more than anything,” Matteson said. “When that hit the floor, I was just thrilled. I can’t even put it into words.”

*Westmoreland 3,Mount Markham 2*
*Game scores: *27-25, 14-25, 12-25, 25-18, 25-18
*Westmoreland (17-4): *Tyler Matteson 15 assists, 22 kills, 2 blocks, 2 digs; Brandon Jones 29 assists, 1 kill, 1 dig; Neal Baron 10 kills, 5 blocks; Steve LeMaire 7 kills, 2 blocks; Trevor McGregor 8 kills.
*Mount Markham (16-3): *Danny Roberts 18 kills, 11 digs, 2 blocks; Brian Gurtowski 18 kills, 1 ace, 16 digs, 1 block; Shawn Chapman 3 kills, 53 assists, 1 ace, 10 digs, 2 blocks; Dylan Land 20 digs.

*Living Word sweeps VVS*
ONEIDA – Vernon-Verona-Sherrill was flying high after rallying from two games down to defeat Oneida in Tuesday’s Class B semifinals.

But the Red Devils hit a wall in Thursday’s final, losing in three games to Living Word Academy. David Mazur had 17 kills to lead Living Word to a 3-0 win over VVS, giving coach Joe Reitz his 11th sectional title in 14 years with the Lions.

Game scores were 25-12, 25-14, 25-23.

VVS quickly fell behind in Games 1 and 2 and was unable to recover.

“We were playing defense all night,” VVS coach Jim Burton said. “When you’re doing that, it’s hard to get your offense going.”

The Red Devils made their best showing in Game 3, earning many points off the hand of Rob Sweet. An Aaron Owens block gave the Red Devils a 23-22 lead, but a Marcus Williams kill tied it, and a pair of Mazur kills ended the match.

“We knew we were in for a fight,” Burton said. “Tuesday took a lot out of us, but that doesn’t take away from Living Word. The best team won tonight.”

*Living Word 3, VVS 0
VVS (13-8): *Rob Sweet 1 ace, 5 kills, 2 blocks, 5 digs; Luke Voelker 1 ace, 16 assists, 1 kill, 1 block; Stephen Davis 2 aces, 13 digs; Aaron Owens 4 kills, 1 block.
*Living Word (16-1):* David Mazur 17 kills, 6 blocks, 2 aces; Isaac Virag 11 kills, 1 block, 1 ace, 2 assists; Ethan Irish 2 kills, 1 block, 3 aces, 32 assists; Marcus Williams 3 kills, 1 ace.


   
Section III's Unofficial Boys Winter Volleyball Website
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